Three bear sightings reported in Wilmington, Del.

Bear sightings last week about 15 miles from the Delaware border (Marple Police Twitter)

Bear sightings last week about 15 miles from the Delaware border (Marple Police Twitter)

There were three bear sighting reports in Wilmington, Del. along roadways near I-95 early this morning, according to Delaware State Police.

Bear sightings in the First State are rare. The last one was in 2016 — more than 100 years after the first and only other reported bear sighting in Delaware.

New sightings have been anticipated, however, because populations are increasing in neighboring states, said Joe Rogerson of the state’s Division of Fish and Wildlife.

There have been several bear sightings in Delaware County over the last few days. The bear (or bears) has been dubbed the “Delco Bear.” It (or they) has been able to dodge wildlife authorities so far.

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“Ironically, I had conversations with my supervisor yesterday about this, ‘Hey it looks like it’s starting to get closer, we might have another one come down to Delaware.’ And lo and behold, I come into work this morning, and apparently that’s what happened overnight,” Rogerson said.

In the spring, young bears disperse from their birthplace, wandering in random directions to find their own territory. That’s likely what occurred when a bear was spotted near the University of Delaware in Newark, Del. in 2016.

However, bear sightings are rare during the winter because many hibernate, Rogerson said.

“This time of the year, it’s a bit unusual for these larger, long-scale movements. Many bears are already beginning to hibernate for the winter. Although, if there’s enough food resources available, some of them will never enter hibernation and continue to move around and feed over the course of winter,” he said.

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“I’m not sure if that’s what this one is doing right now. It’s not unheard of for one to move around this time of year. But, this is a little less common time of year to have a movement like this.”

Rogerson said wildlife officials do expect bear sightings to become more frequent in the years to come.

Delaware residents should keep trash indoors so as not to entice bears, he said. If a person sees a bear, they should stay away and call the Division of Fish and Wildlife’s 24-hour hotline at 1800-523-3336.

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